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Young bunny to old bonded pair


Alpha Buck
I have a lot to catch up on but right now this is my most urgent query!!
Long story short, our beautiful Odin is counting time, probably weeks rather than months but you never know. Freja is not a confident bunny and has never been alone, so I am quite concerned about her mental health when she loses him. As a result - and because we actually thought we were going to lose him a couple of months ago - I have been looking out for a suitable toyboy for her to hopefully bond with for the future. We've got the chance of a young (4.5 month) buck from her own breeders, which I am most happy about as she is well bred and healthy compared to so many giants, as well as being a good size, not stupid big.
If it all goes beautifully then the dream is for them all to bond as a lovely trio and for Odin to just have another doting bunny to clean his ears for him in his dotage. I am not naive enough to think this is likely though!!
My biggest worry is just having him on the premises being enough to knock the bond that already exists. I read a post by IM the other day (old post) that suggested this is less of an issue if they can smell but not see the new bunny, so we are setting them up to be invisible to each other but within smelling distanct. Because of their sizes it is not easy to ensure enough space for everyone, but we can just about do it.
The plan is to have an outside area that newbun can be alongside Freja - in time - so they can see each other but are separated for as long as necessary, whilst having enough space to be happy. Then an indoor area that will be a bit small longterm but we can work on that, for overnight - though there is the option of newbun staying outside as we're converting the henhouse to be an outdoor house for him. Not an option for too much longer, but hopefully long enough if we need to so that Odin isn't distressed. Newbun will need to be carried between the two, but this gives us chance to spend time with him and get him used to being handled whilst he's still young too.
Once I know they are ok then the plan would be to have them alongside, inside and out, and then to gradually start swapping territories so they each get chance to sniff and explore each other's scent. It also means newbun can get familiar with the layout of the big run and tunnels, more exercise, and access to the grazing hill.
I'm not in a rush to bond them, and newbun needs neutering anyway which will be done as soon as he is settled enough for me to know what is normal for him, but what am I missing? In reality what are the chance of his meer presence upsetting the big guys? They have a very tight bond, but it really worries me.
The reason he is coming now and not once Odin has gone is that a) I am very worried that Freja will not cope for very long on her own, and b) the breeder only breeds when they want a litter, not commercially, and I am keen to get as healthy a rabbit as I can, and not support the rabbit version of BYB. Giants just don't come up in rescue often enough, if they do it is generally too far for us to travel, and Odin's issues have been exacerbated by her sheer size so we are not prepared to risk a smaller rabbit longterm.
I will do a full Odin update separately, but any thoughts as to how we can minimise the stress for them over the next couple of weeks would be appreciated - please be kind and as positive as possible though,I am acutely aware of the risks of bringing him home, I have thought and thought over the past few months but this feels like the best option from a difficult choice.
I am sorry to hear that Odin is on borrowed time ☹️

Apologies for bullet point format of this message, typos or spelling errors. I have double vision from health problem 🙄

New Bun will need to be kept quarantined well away from O an F for a couple of weeks. If unvaccinated this must be done ASAP - Nobivac Myxo-RHD Plus. Full immune response to the vaccine takes 3 weeks. Some Vets recommend revaccinating 6 months later if primary dose is given at 5 weeks. Then moving to annual vaccination there-after.Hopefully breeder has already had him vaccinated, as mentioned,it can be given from 5 weeks of age. Only believe vaccine status if given a Veterinary signed vaccine card.

You will need to wait 6-8 weeks AFTER neuter to attempt any introduction. Hormone surges continue to occur during this time.

Side by side living with O+F not a good idea until all risks of NB spraying wee have subsided. Some spraying is still likely to occur during the post neuter hormone surges phase.If his wee spray lands on O or F or in their territory all hell is likely to break lose

Realistically you are looking at keeping NB well away from O +F for the first 3 months. Assuming NB is ready for neutering as soon as you get him. If not it’ll be longer than 3 months. Personally I don’t neuter giants til they are a bit older than a smaller breed, even if their testicles have dropped.

Bonding is stressful. Stress easily exacerbates pre-existing health conditions. Think VERY carefully about what this could mean for O

Would it be an option for the breeder to hold on to NB for you I’d O only has such a short time left. You could pay a deposit and if he’s not vaccinated get the breeder to have it done BY A VET. Obviously you’d need to pay for that. Personally this would be my first option if O has just a few weeks left.

I will come back later to try to offer a bit more advice should you still decide to proceed with bringing NB home straight away and get as far as being able to start attempting a bond. IE 6—8 weeks after NB is neutered. My vision too blurred now to post more
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Ok, you've pretty much said everything I've already been thinking over and over. I'm not sure that leaving him longer is possible for a variety of reasons, but he is fully vaccinated with certificates, should have said that. But I just had a brainwave and remembered I have a horsebox sitting on my drive, basically a box van, so a big empty space but close enough that we can spend lots of time with him yet far enough from the other two to be entirely separate. So we'll make him a lovely space in there to move into initially, then it takes the pressure off him being anywhere in sight or intense smell of our two altogether. We've got nesting boxes and tunnels so he can have a nice playground with lots of hay and straw :)
I'd like to leave his neutering longer if we can, and this would allow that. We can make a grazing area in the garden for him to have supervised time in without being near the other two as well.
Thank you for your honesty, I am not taking this lightly AT ALL so I knew you wouldn't be particularly reassuring or positive, but it helps to know that I'm worrying for a reason, most people just keep trying to reassure me by saying they're sure it'll be fine, and that's not enough.
I think we'll be ok with this setup, newbun will have plenty of space to move and grow, old buns will be safe and not stressed (and it's easy enough to change clothes between them etc if needed too), and it gives us plenty of time to let him mature, bond with us a bit while he's still small, get to know him etc etc. I have tonnes of enrichment stuff for him to keep him busy while he's on his own. Only thing I don't like is him being on his own for such a long time, but there's not really any way to avoid that anyway, even if Odin had already gone. We'll just have to make it as good as possible for him.
Is it worth putting a large toy in for him to snuggle with? Do they really like that?
Some like soft toys but some chew on them so it wouldn’t be safe in that instance. the horse box sounds like a good solution for now and he will have plenty of enrichment as you say.
The horse box is a great option. It won’t be forever and it’s not a tiny space. Some Rabbits do like soft toys, but if he were to be a chewer it’s best not to leave one with him. Changing the types of tunnels and toys he has every day to give him something different to investigate would be a good idea. I am sure he’ll have a great life with you 😀
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Okey doke, I've never had soft toys with bunnies before but I'll not bother, then there's no risk. We have so many different enrichment things he'll have plenty to do, and I'll just make sure he has a nest box stuffed with straw for warmth.